Form layouts

Follow these guidelines to generate forms that display well on a variety of platforms and with different screen resolutions and fonts.

The size of Service Manager forms and the objects on them are defined in terms of grid units. For instance, a combo box may be defined to be 36 units wide and 2 units tall. Objects are also placed on forms using the same units. For example, the same combo box may have its upper left corner at a location 5 units to the right of the form edge and 4 units beneath the top of the form.

The size of a grid unit varies depending upon the currently selected Service Manager font. The grid unit is always defined as being half as wide as the lower case e in the current font, and half as tall as the lower case e in the current font. Thus, in a font whose letter e is 8 pixels wide by 12 pixels tall, the grid unit is 4 pixels wide and 6 pixels tall.

Changing the system’s font changes the size of a form on the screen. Just as importantly, it may change the relative shape of the objects therein. If a screen’s grid unit goes from 4x4 to 6x8, then objects on the screen becomes 50% taller, and doubles in width. Thus, the screen appears to stretch and have different proportions than it did originally.

An important point to recognize is that Windows true-type fonts are non-deterministic. Each video driver manufacturer can bundle its own hardware mapping of common fonts, and most modern video cards do so. Many manufacturers improve upon the base Microsoft Windows definition of what constitutes a particular font. Thus, the letter e in Arial 8 pt. bold when displayed at 640x480 on one video card may have a different metric than the same letter displayed at the same resolution on a different video card.

Use easy to understand names and descriptions for buttons and links. Acronyms and cryptic language makes it is difficult or impossible to know what is going to happen if you click the link or press the button.

Related concepts

Form creation
Forms Designer
Creating and editing forms
Forms Designer best practices
Form design
Sizing graphics
Form naming conventions
Web client forms
Building accessible forms

Related tasks

Access Forms Designer
Create a form using the Form Wizard
Update a form

Related references

Forms Designer controls and tools